So, You’re Studying Abroad in Ghana: Where To Go, What To Experience
Ghana isn’t one of the most popular study abroad locations, but that doesn’t mean it’s not worth visiting.
If you signed up to study abroad in Ghana, then congrats! You’ve picked a unique, beautiful location with a rich culture and beautiful landscape. Ghana isn’t one of the most popular study abroad locations, but that doesn’t mean it’s not worth visiting. Whether you’re there for a week or a month, try to do at least some of these things to make sure you get the full Ghanaian experience!
1. Start in Accra, the capital city. Accra is also the largest city in Ghana, therefor will have the most opportunities to get yourself acquainted with the country. While you’re here, hit the big tourist sites like the Kwame Nkrumah Mausoleum, dedicated in memory of the first Ghanaian president Kwame Nkrumah, and the Black Star Arch across the street from Independence Square, which holds Ghana’s independence parade along with several other national festivals
2. Kakum Nation Park near Cape Coast. Take the canopy walk and enjoy the sounds of the monkeys howling in the trees around you. If you have time, Kakum also offers an overnight stay in a tree house in the park, complete with guided nighttime nature hikes in the rainforest. This was one of my favorite parts of my whole trip!
3. While you’re in cape coast, Elmina Castle (also known as St. George’s Castle) is a must-see. The castle sits right on the ocean and offers beautiful views of the water, but it’s the history behind this place that will take your breath away. The castle was built by the Portuguese and was one of the first slave-trading ports in Sub-Saharan Africa. Take advantage of their guided tours, which will take you through the dungeons where the slaves were kept, the fancier quarters of the Europeans above the dungeons, and the Door of No Return, through which slaves would pass to board the ships that would take them across the Atlantic.
4. Kejetia open air market in Kumasi. The market is SO huge it can be a little overwhelming for some people, but even if you don’t buy anything just a quick walk around the market to see all the different goods being sold is worth it.
5. Still near Kumasi, take a trip to Bonwire, a village where they weave Kente cloth, a traditional Ghanaian cloth worn by the Ashanti people for important occasions or celebrations. Watch the skilled weavers use the looms, buy some of the beautiful fabric in their store, or even have a bracelet custom-made right in front of you. If you’re nice enough, they might even let you try your hand on the loom.
6. Next, treat yourself to a little slice of Ghanaian paradise at Lake Bosumtwi near Kumasi. The drive to this lake situated in an ancient crater is beautiful, but doesn’t compare to the stunning views once you make it down to the water. Relax on the beach, take a swim, or play volleyball on the sand courts here. Or, if you’re feeling really adventurous, hop on one of the boats that give you a tour of the lake, and then drop you off in the middle of it! The swim in to shore isn’t long, and it’s absolutely worth it to see the lake from such a different perspective. Plus, the Ghanaian sun is hot, and cooling down in the water will feel amazing.
7. Koforidua Bead Market may be a little off the beaten path, but it is absolutely worth a visit. An open air market in a beautiful location in the mountains, it will overwhelm you with all it’s beautiful colors and patterns. Every single bead sold at this market has been hand made, and with such cheap prices it will be hard for you not to buy everything. Pro tip: the beads are sold in long strands, so consider going with a friend and splitting up strands you both like.
8. Almost every city in Ghana I visited had open air markets that we would stop at to buy fruit for dinner. They’re usually situated right alongside the road, so don’t worry about not being able to find them. These markets sell the best mangos, bananas, and oranges you will ever eat, and usually for less than a dollar! If you’re a fruit fan, be sure to buy a few mangos to snack on later. Just make sure to wash it well, and be sure not to eat the skin.
9. Another food to make sure you eat before you leave is called fufu. Fufu is made of cassava flour and plantain, and is essentially just a ball of dough. It’s usually served in soup or stew, and you eat it with your hands! Take a small piece of the dough, use it to scoop up some of the soup, and pop it in your mouth. Be sure to swallow it whole like the locals though, chewing it is a total rookie move.
10. Finally, make sure to take a trotro at some point in your visit. The Ghanaian version of a taxi, these vans and buses are probably one of the most eclectic experience you’ll have while here. So many different kinds of people rely on these to get to their destinations, and it’s not unusual to pack 15-20 people in one small mini-bus. It’s important to be prepared for anything when taking one of these. One lady even got on a trotro I was in with a live chicken she had just bought from a market. Some people I was with loved taking them and some people hated them, but either way it’s an important part of Ghanaian culture to experience.